Some dogs suffer from separation anxiety. They may become distressed when left alone at home and become destructive or cry or bark constantly. As a dog owner, you may be working on these behaviors and the anxiety itself, but what do you do when you need to board your dog if you need to go away for a weekend or if you get sick and need to stay in the hospital?
Here are some tips that can help you prepare your dog for boarding, and what might make it easier on your dog.
1. Tour several different facilities.
A large commercial facility might not be what your dog can handle. You should tour a few businesses to look at what type of facility it is and how many dogs they keep. An anxious dog may sometimes feel better with other dogs around, or this could make them nervous. A small pet sitting business may only take one or two dogs at a time, which might be easier for your dog, especially if you use the same person every time.
2. Do a test run.
Before you actually do go away of have an emergency, try boarding your dog for the day while you are at work. See how it goes. You might be surprised to find your dog adapts well to boarding. ON the other hand, if boarding is huge issue during your test run, you may need to contact your vet for direction on how to get the anxiety under control. Dogs who have been abused or hurt, dogs who were taken from their mother too early, or dogs who experienced recent trauma (such as the death of a companion) may need some extra TLC or even medication before they are ready for round two.
You can also do a test run where you and your dog stay at a strange house for a sleepover. This way, your dog gets used to being a place that isn't home, but you are there for extra security. This is like getting your feet wet before full boarding begins.
3. Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise.
Sometimes, what owners call separation anxiety is actually a bad case of cabin fever. Dogs who are naturally active may have trouble being kenneled in a small space, so their turn their energy to aggression or destruction instead. Try increasing your dog's activity levels in the weeks leading up to the board so that you can see if the behavior changes. if it does, leave specific exercise instructions with the boarding company so that your dog can get the stimulation they need.
4. Pack memories of home.
Your dog may struggle being away from the "den" of your house and the comfort of your company, so don't hesitate to fill his doggie luggage up with memories from home. Many dogs have favorite toys, blankets, or even entire crates that would make them feel more at home. Do you have a sweater or pillow that smells like you? Throw that in when your dog goes to the boarding house. You can also pack your dog's own food and bowls. Make a note of feeding times so that your dog stays on the same rough schedule they enjoyed at home.
5. Socialize your dog more often.
If you're a homebody and just like hunker down ofter work watching TV and enjoying your meal in peace, make a concerted effort to get out and about with your pet so your dog can make friends with other dogs. Just being around other dogs can help them feel more loved and less anxious -- and less attached to you, because they can get a sense of belonging with other friends.